Many executives do not have an accurate, objective and actionable perspective about the attractiveness of their backgrounds in the talent market. This understanding is particularly important if you are going to manage your career and development and effectively position yourself for future opportunities.
Based on extensive research and experience concerning what hiring executives and executive search professionals currently look for in candidates, the EPAM – Executive Profile Attractiveness Measure ™, a simple and straightforward self-diagnostic, was developed to provide such insight and perspective. The 10 most important profile components assessed by hiring companies and search firms today are: Experience, Impact, Potential, Stability, Quality, Presence, Passion, Influence, and Reputation. The EPAM is designed around these components.
A copy of the EPAM is provided below for you to take. This is a learning tool; there’s no right or wrong. The more honest you are in assessing yourself across the 10 profile components the more you will get out of this exercise. Here’s how it works:
Step One: Establish Your EPAM
Under each of the 10 Key Components below, rate yourself as objectively as possible on a scale of 1-low to 10-high. Refer to the accompanying bullet points to help you arrive at a rating. Mark your rating in the space provided on the right side of the page. Remember, be as honest and objective as possible, otherwise the results of this exercise will have less educational value for you.
- My collective experience, skill sets, and knowledge are valued by my company.
- I have developed a valuable range of experiences that is in demand, and which positions me in a productive and differentiated manner in the market.
- My experience is current with emerging trends in my industry and I am well positioned for the future.
Experience Rating: ______
- I have taken on positions of meaningful responsibility and made contributions that have materially impacted the performance of the organizations with which I’ve worked.
- The positive impact of these contributions would not have occurred without my involvement.
Impact Rating: ______
- I have repeatedly taken on new or larger responsibilities as a result of strong prior performance.
- I seek out challenges that provide me new learning opportunities and broader exposure.
- I have adapted well to new situations and come up to speed quickly.
Potential Rating: ______
- My profile shows that I have not “job hopped” and that I have been able to receive promotions within the same company.
- My average tenure with an employer is 4-5 years or more.
- I have worked with and been promoted in several companies during the course of my career as opposed to being with just one company my entire career (i.e. too stable or risk averse).
Stability Rating: ______
- I have worked with recognized and respected companies that are market leaders with a reputation for attracting great talent, having respected senior management, favorable performance records, innovation and positive cultures.
Quality Rating: ______
- I make a positive and credible first impression and exhibit an optimistic and confident attitude.
- I possess well-developed listening skills and am able to communicate in a highly effective and engaging manner through the written word, orally person-to-person, and in both small and large groups.
- I am a compelling presenter to larger audiences.
Presence Rating: ______
- While operating day-to-day, I outwardly exhibit energy and observable passion and commitment for what I am doing and my business.
- I am able to engage others through my enthusiasm.
Passion Rating: ______
- My experience, skill sets and knowledge are respected and enable me to have an impact on what is going on around me within the organization.
- Others look to me for my support, thoughts, and guidance.
- I have built effective internal relationships in my company with peers, subordinates, and managers above me and consistently influence their thinking.
- I am able to bring people together, articulate a course of action, organize around stated objectives, and drive execution.
- Others in the organization are responsive to me.
Influence Rating: ______
- I have exhibited an uncommon level of intelligence (illustrated by either complex problem solving, academic achievement, or intelligence testing).
- I am someone who others describe as a “quick study”—able to adapt to and learn in new environments and make a positive impact.
Intelligence Rating: ______
- I have a broad and very positive reputation for doing great work, having high integrity, consistently achieving results, and being someone with whom others want to work.
- If asked at this minute, I am able to provide at least six references from a combination of my current and former employers who will enthusiastically attest to my work, integrity, results, and ability to work with others.
Reputation Rating: ______
Step Two: Calculate Your EPAM
Once you have objectively and honestly rated your profile across these ten dimensions on the 1-low to 10-high point scale, add the numbers to arrive at your total EPAM score.
Total EPAM Score: ______
Step Three: Assess Your EPAM
Compare your total score to the EPAM ranges provided below. Your score will provide you with an initial appreciation for how attractive your current executive profile is in the job market. Use these results to strengthen areas of weakness and put a spotlight on your strengths to establish a highly competitive and attractive
Here is what your total EPAM score indicates:
85-100 points: You have a very good to excellent profile and are well on your way to optimizing your inherent capabilities, intellect and experience. If you continue to manage and position your career and profile successfully, you should have attractive future opportunities and increased compensation. Executive recruiters will want to have you on their radar. Be selective in choosing the recruiters you work with. Identify those who are doing work in the functions and industry sectors you are interested in. Get to know them, and let them get to know you. Stay in touch.
70-84 points: You have a solid to good profile, but should determine whether you can improve the dimensions where you are less developed. Assuming that the skills and experience you do have match the specific job requirements, you are a reasonable to good candidate in the eyes of executive recruiters. Be aware that you
will likely find stiff competition for the most attractive roles, so continued development is advised.
50-69 points: You have considerable opportunity to improve the attractiveness of your profile. This might be because you are early in your career, or you have not been mindful of managing your career to develop requisite skills, experience, and track record that you need in order to be highly competitive. Your current profile does not effectively distinguish you from others. As such, you are likely losing the ability to leverage your profile for new roles and higher compensation. Focus on those dimensions where you are least developed. Seek out the guidance of trusted colleagues, a mentor or a career coach.
35-40 points: You have a lot of opportunity to improve, either because you are very early in your career, or you have recently made a transition into a very different arena. It is also possible that you have not had the flexibility or inclination to build an attractive profile. In either case, you substantially lack the necessary skill sets, knowledge and experience that recruiters and employers are looking for. If your career is important to you or others, you need to establish an action-oriented game plan to enrich the ten key profile components described above. Unless you do this, you will find that your future options are limited.
Below 35 points: Unless you are just starting out your career, you need to undertake some serious self-reflection and determine whether you are on the right career track. There may be other roles that will be a more comfortable fit with who you are. You will likely want to consider further training as well.
In future columns I will provide further insight into these 10 key profile components and provide suggestions for how to improve your EPAM score over time.
Chris Nadherny spent 30 years at a leading global search firm, Spencer Stuart. As a Partner and Practice Leader at the company he conducted more than 700 search assignments, including the recruitment of C-Suite executives at some of the nation’s largest companies. This October he published “The Proactive Executive” which details strategies for achieving greater career success. Purchase his book here.